EPA develops protocol for testing antimicrobial efficacy of copper surfaces

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a recommended protocol for testing the antimicrobial efficacy of copper-containing surfaces. The testing described in this protocol is intended to support registration of products bearing non-food contact, surface sanitizer claims. The Agency is accepting comments on the protocol for 60 days. At a later time, EPA expects to issue a Data Call-In to require testing using this protocol for currently registered copper and copper alloy-based surface products.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, EPA evaluates the efficacy of antimicrobial products intended to control pathogens that can be detrimental to public health. The products in question here are hard surface products such as door handles, light switch panels and bed rails that contain copper or copper alloys for their antimicrobial characteristics.

Antimicrobial efficacy testing of copper-containing surface products presents numerous challenges due to the prolonged product use period and the wide variation in potential product forms and use patterns. This protocol is designed to address these issues by including a product characterization component that addresses the product’s physical durability and chemical stability when used as proposed. The efficacy assessment component of the protocol involves evaluation of the performance of two product manufacturing lots against three pathogenic microorganisms – Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The efficacy test results, in combination with the product durability/stability component, will be used to determine the sanitizing activity of the copper-containing surface.

For more information:

EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Methods & Procedures

EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Program